When talking about the use and abuse of substances (drugs) or behaviors (games, pornography, etc.) we refer to the relationship created by an individual with an external stimulus that has cognitive, behavioral, physiological or relational symptomatic consequences, and also continues to consume it, despite the consequences mentioned. Usually, its use is accompanied by justifications, rationalizations or excuses to continue consuming, such as “Everyone does it”, “It does not hurt me”, “I can stop whenever I want.”
When we talk about dependence, we refer to the physical and physiological inability of an individual to abandon or stop using the substance despite the damage caused or the relational, labor or educational deterioration that arises from consumption. Any use and abuse of any substance, if left untreated, with time can become a dependency.
Despite the popular belief, addiction to any substance or behavior is not a subject’s own or controlled decision, it tends to have very deep internal emotional factors, in addition to the fact that there is significant amount of evidence that proves neurological alterations in the brain’s reward system and the decrease in the ability to postpone gratification.
Any drug that is consumed in excess produces a general direct activation of the brain’s reward system, which is involved in behavioral reinforcement and the production of memories, its intensity causes normal activities to be neglected, instead of obtaining such stimulation through adaptive behaviors, drugs or behaviors directly activate the reward pathways, producing feelings of pleasure, therefore people with lower levels of self-control that reflect dysfunctions in the mechanisms of cerebral inhibition, are more predisposed to develop a dependence on substances.
Therefore, to help with these cases, it is needed a multidisciplinary approach that contacts all the specific areas involved in the use, abuse or dependence and to understand that the first part of any treatment related to consumption is to accept that the substance or behavior is a problem. It should be noted that there are different levels of severity of consumption regardless of the amount consumed, so the initial evaluation is vital for the process and the involvement of the family a prominent recovery factor.